Central Bank secures court orders against director of mortgage firm
Juerg Von Gietz found to be untruthful when answering regulator’s questionnaire
In the first application of its kind under section 45 of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, the Bank secured the orders on Monday against Juerg Von Geitz, who had provided an address at Percy Place, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
The Central Bank has secured High Court orders confirming a prohibition notice preventing a man, who was executive director of a mortgage firm, from performing controlled functions here for 10 years.
In the first application of its kind under section 45 of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, the bank secured the orders on Monday against Juerg Von Geitz, who had provided an address at Percy Place, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
The Act provides the Central Bank can take steps when it considers there is reason to suspect a person’s fitness and probity to perform controlled functions.
The application arose from an investigation by the bank suggesting Mr Von Geitz may have been untruthful when completing an information questionnaire submitted to it in 2015 when seeking the necessary approval from the bank for performing the controlled function of executive director of his firm, The Mortgage Department Ltd.
Among various answers, Mr Von Geitz had said he had never been subject of a bankruptcy when he had been, Eoin McCullough SC, for the bank, said.
Mr Von Geitz had also said he had had no other business interests – including shareholdings – when he had.
He also answered he had never been a director of a company which was struck off the register, which was incorrect; failed to say he had previously been found in contempt of a High Court order and that he had had judgments entered against him on dates in 2009 and 2010.
The bank was also concerned about how Mr Von Geitz dealt with its investigation, initiated in November 2017.
Counsel said Mr Von Geitz had provided an address, an email address and phone number but it turned out to be “extremely difficult” to serve him at those or to contact him. He had not turned up for three interviews and when he did turn up, had given various excuses which were “hard to credit”.
Mr Von Geitz, who had submitted an application for revocation of the mortgage firm in November 2017, did not attend Monday’s court hearing and was not represented.
In court documents, the bank said he had told it in late 2017 he was in Switzerland.
Mr McCullough said Mr Von Geitz had previously indicated a willingness to enter into an agreement whereby he would abide by the terms of the Prohibition Notice issued to him last July arising from the Central Bank investigation.
Because he had ultimately chosen not to enter into that agreement, the bank sought the court orders.
While Mr Von Geitz’s actions were not at the most serious end because no customer money was taken, the bank considered the furnishing of wrong information to it was a serious issue and a 10-year prohibition order was required.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said some of the answers provided by Mr Von Geitz in his information questionnaire were “just plain wrong” regarding facts, even when they related to his own fiscal affairs and own dealings over the years.
It was hard to see how Mr Von Geitz gave that information to the Central Bank in an honest fashion, he said.
The judge said the background to this application was set out in an affidavit of Sylvia Cronin, the chief information officer of the Central Bank, who outlined that, in 2010, a fitness and probity regime concerning financial institutions was introduced here for the first time.
The judge “entirely agreed” with the bank’s concern to honour its obligations under the Act.
He said the bank had concluded Mr Von Geitz has failed in his obligations to the bank in two respects, in giving wholly unsatisfactory and “plain wrong” answers to its queries and in how he dealt with the bank when it sought to ensure its statutory functions under the 2010 Act have been met.
It is clear Mr Von Geitz has behaved in a manner which raises substantial questions about his entitlement to conduct functions regulated by the Act and he would make the confirmatory order sought, the judge said.